Answer to Question #7217 in Organic Chemistry for Harjyot Singh

Question #7217
Hello, I had a problem in understanding the concept of heteroatoms, which is described as elements replacing hydrogen in an organic compound. see in a organic compound, say methane, we replace one hydrogen with Cl and it becomes ch3cl and Cl is a heteroatom. now lets take the case of CHO. (Aldehyde group) why is it also called a heteroatom ? see because in an organic compound say - propane we add aldehyde group ,this is happening - CH3CH2CH3, CHO. - CH3CH2CHO so isint only O replacing two hydrogen atoms? so shouldn't O be the heteroatom but no we call the whole group the heteroatom, for which the only explanation I can think of is, for say to make propanal, we add ethyl + CHO group, that is CH3CH2 + CHO that makes sense as from ethane, we are removing one hydrogen and the whole CHO is replacing this right? Sir, please explain where am I going wrong? I hate concepts not being clear. thank yiu
Expert's answer
In organic chemistry , a heteroatom is any atom that is not carbon or hydrogen .
Usually, the term is used to indicate that
non-carbon atoms have
carbon(not a hydrogen!!!) in the
backbone of the molecular
Typical heteroatoms
are nitrogen, oxygen , sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine,
bromine, and iodine.

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